Lifes Hurdles

Allen Maddox, Artist

This is one of the paintings in our collection. It was made in 1976. The place where it was made is unknown.
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Object Detail

About the Work
Allen Maddox is one of New Zealand's most well known exponents of Abstract Expressionism. He began using grids of crosses inside boxes in 1975 after crossing out a work that was not going well, following which the cross remained an enduring motif in his work for over twenty years.

In Maddox's early cross paintings the grid is the main feature of the composition, for example in 'Life's Hurdles' 1976, while in later works the cross becomes more of the central focus and the grid becomes much looser.

'Life's Hurdles' is comprised of a grid of painted crosses on free-form rectangular frames of unstretched canvases and, with the gradual reduction of scale of the grid of crosses and the corresponding reduction in the size of the rectangles, the work draws the viewer inwards as if into a vortex.

The cross is a symbol that is loaded with meaning and, within the context of Maddox's Christian beliefs, his paintings can be interpreted in many ways. From directing the viewer's gaze to the 'sublime' lifting their thoughts to the spiritual realm; the use of the Latin monogram for Christ, which is an X over the letter P; to negation and the cancellation of anything that has been crossed out or marked as such; as well as a more formalist approach and consideration of his dynamic use of colour. His paintings are "made permanently dynamic by the dazzle of its colour and the sheer panache of its making in its wild brush strokes and random runs and blotches you can see the grain, feel the current of talent." (Keith Stewart, 'Telling the whole story', Sunday Star Times, 8 Feb 1998)

- Jennifer Taylor Moore, Curator of Collections, Sarjeant Gallery for the exhibition "What It Is Not. Abstract Art from the Sarjeant Collection' 13 Jun - 25 July 2020
1630 x 2150 x 55 mm
acrylic on unstretched canvas, mounted on stretched canvas
Four unstretched painted canvas rectangles of descending size. Each of the 3 larger rectangles form a frame for the next smaller size of rectangle. Each rectangle is pinned onto a stretched canvas support and painted in a series of multicoloured crosses.
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Purchased, 1977
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
12 Dec 1977



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